Charred remains


Find answers. Real ones

Pakistan’s ideology took more than just a lethal blow on Saturday when treasonous elements set ablaze the Ziarat Residency. A dignified structure that had provided solace during his last days to the creator of this country, it was callously rent asunder to hit the very core of our existence. The ‘before and after’ photographs turned stomachs in utter disgust! The charred remains of our soul grotesquely bared.

Rebuild it in three months, it is proposed. You may rebuild a soulless edifice but pray tell how will you take a nation and rebuild its soul? Pakistan has lost sensitivity. Ambiguous rhetoric and self-aggrandizing jargon seeks to offer justification for incompetency and the lack of will to even begin the quest for a cure. Human life is of no magnitude except when it provides political leverage. When the word ‘rebuild’ is used those mouthing it should consider the consequences in entirety; the superficial use bears no consequence.

In a shocking and painful day of mayhem in Quetta, at least 25 young schoolgirls were blown up in a bus, by a female suicide bomber. Terrorists then took over the Bolan Hospital where the victims were being treated. Dozens died in a second suicide attack. Security forces were virtually ineffective and utter confusion and chaos prevailed, causing anguish and disgust. Despicable carnage reigned free.

To add salt to the wounds, the interior minister tells us he went to Quetta despite threats. Is that a favour? It is his job, he has no option but to do it. Especially given that bloodthirsty terrorists have brutally killed the deputy commissioner, the head of civil government in the city. So minister, just get on with your job. God knows there is plenty to do. Including initiating action at the self-confessed perpetrators of the crime rather than claiming accolades for magnanimity by ceding to a minority chief minister.

Killings and kidnappings continue without mercy. The father of one of the girls killed in the bus has been kidnapped while coming to take the body for burial. Policemen killed in Qila Saifullah, and on the other side polio workers killed, yet again in Swabi, bombs are being planted everywhere and life in Karachi is taken as if it was another glass of water. What is government’s response? Warnings to certain elements, arms licenses to polio workers, which to my mind is a joke. Are they volunteers or gunfighters? But nary a word is spoken or action threatened to the real elements, the known and self-proclaimed terrorists. This spells disaster.

Talk of peace with ruthless murderers is jarring. Is the proverbial ‘other cheek’ to be on continuous offer despite being repeatedly slapped and without any respite? Supposedly talks with those that ‘will talk’ are planned. Those who will talk are those that are probably insignificant in that realm. Dozens of these can be collected and put on the podium. Yes it will present a picture opportunity, yet another meaningless press conference, to no end. The question is do we even know whom we want to talk to? If so, name them specifically and reveal their identities. And let them reveal what they want. Surely with a total of 4.7 per cent vote cast for the rightists, one per cent of whom have perhaps run amok, they certainly cannot demand government is handed over.

Even if we name them, what is government going to talk about? What agenda and what negotiations? These are people who have no principles. They violate the written, tacit prescription of the same God they are allegedly defending. Every day this country sees some poor soul hauled up for blasphemy. Violating the tenets of Islam, Al-Quran, directly by action must be the worst form of blasphemy. Bloodthirsty marauders, killing Muslims, on the rampage! Yet no authority, executive or judicial is willing to take even a single step to stop this malaise from spreading into the very core of our lives. Not even a self-confessed murderer, arrogantly claiming it was his duty to kill, as in the case of Salman Taseer’s assassin, lives three years after the heinous crime. Termites are taking over the whole house.

Stop the drones, government yells, supported by PTI and others. These drones are probably the only factor taking arms with the terrorists. Alright, stop them. So that the terrorists run back into Swat, Waziristan and infiltrate deeper into Quetta, KP, Islamabad, Karachi and eventually Lahore, ravaging the nation. And once they have overrun everything and you continue being helpless, go back to the US, eat crow, and say now help us clean up. Perhaps that is the only way that terror will be carpet-bombed.

There has to be a transparent and clear strategy to achieve a single objective, which is peace and thereafter a chance for progress. Sporadic reconstruction is never a possibility. I believe the Sharif brothers were taught this lesson well by their father. To govern with the fear of man-made earthquakes on a daily basis isn’t easy. Imran Khan’s PTI has its first go at governance, and although he may be just coach to his KP tsunami, with celebrities reaching out to him to protect and promote their charitable programmes he needs to find answers. Real ones.

Abbas Afridi is right. He told the Senate yesterday, “It is the mandate of a divided and disintegrated nation and not a united one. This mandate doesn’t reflect the thinking of united Pakistan and is the reason we see conflicts in Balochistan, FATA and KP today”. You can extend this further to conflicts in Karachi, perhaps even other significant parts of Sindh. The need then is to build consensus to fight the foremost problem of terror. Regionalism has blatantly taken over in abject surrender to the four-nation theory. Consensus requires sagacity and willingness provided there is will.

No investment, badly needed, can come in the obtaining situation unless of course concessions are made which allow investors to make four times what they can make in conventional markets. While infrastructure continues to be below par, resentment will grow till it becomes a deafening roar. The treasury is cash strapped and Pakistan has changed. The ‘bling bling’ effect will not work with the people. They maybe distracted for a while but reality will hit them soon. It is imperative that serious steps are taken to create an environment that invites investment and growth. Otherwise we will be facing a secondary revolt and this one will encompass the entire country rather than scattered acts of violence.

Logic does not compute the total apathy of every arm of governance towards the monumental disaster this country will face if the current state continues. Action at all levels is essential. This Lashkar-e-Jhangvi outfit is worse than any Al-Qaeda or Taliban can be. It is only killing Pakistanis. Perhaps it’s doing something else for its masters too that we don’t know. For it not to be effectively banned by government or by the superior courts, that take suo moto notice of every trivia in the country except acts of terror, is astonishing. It’s not this government alone, it is the entire structure that has failed the nation and continues to fiddle while it literally burns.

Somewhere really soon, if there is belief in this country, the entire civil and military apparatus has to take this mad bull by the horns. Yes there will be collateral damage but if the soul is intact that too can be ‘rebuilt’. We need to give ourselves that chance. Build a united Pakistan.

The writer can be contacted at: [email protected]